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Friday Trivia #7: Abbreviation Station

March 5, 2010

New I and the Bird #120 at Sand Creek Almanac


How long has it been since I did one of these trivia things?  A year?  And before that another year?  Man, I’m slacking folks.  No excuses.  Hopefully, you’ll forgive me when you see the multi-layered monster I have for you this time.  This one is literally years in the making.

I don’t know about you, but I’m partial to using codes to list my birds when I’m out in the field. Typically I use the four letter codes created by Pyle for use by bird-banders. You basically take the first two letters of each word and combine them to create an abbreviation.  There are a few overlapping species, Barn Owl and Barred Owl are both BAOW for instance, but for a day in the field it’s fairly useful for cutting down note-taking and how often are you going to see both Barn and Barred Owl anyway?  Though that would be a pretty awesome day.

Some birders prefer to use a six letter code which cuts down on overlapping species even more. For two word species, you take the first three letters in each word and splice them together.  For instance, American Robin becomes AMEROB.  For three word species you take the first two letters of the three words and combine those, as White-throated Sparrow becomes WHTHSP.  Do you follow?

This six letter code was my preferred way of note-taking in Guatemala as there are many species with elaborate names and shortening allowed me to spend more time on the birds and less on my notes.   However, it did not go unnoticed that the occasional code spelled a funny word of its own and thus, a quiz was born*.

So, finally, the rules.

  1. You will be given a clue, the answer to which is a six letter word (Edit: I should be more clear, there are six total letters, but it might be more than one word).
  2. That six letter word is an abbreviation of a common North American bird species, derived using the method described above
  3. The answer to the question is not the abbreviation, but the bird species.

An example!

Clue: A resident of Benning or Bragg.

Step 2: FORTER

Answer: Forster’s Tern

Got it?  Put your answers in the comments, I’ll mark them off as they come in.

And away we go….


UPDATE: Some answers are in the comments.  If you want to continue figuring out the clues, don’t look!

Those marked in italic have been solved.

  1. A list of team members.
  2. Any of the Bush Administration’s positions on Iraq
  3. That gross stuff on the lid when you open the soup
  4. A selling point for a half-ton pickup
  5. An outsider’s view of the stock market
  6. An extremely unlikely porcine event
  7. What that excellent chinese mechanic seems to posess
  8. How to turn your team of doves towards you
  9. The battle between push and safety
  10. The painter’s medium of choice
  11. Rest and relaxation for a Rhode Island Red
  12. What that redneck calls your raw fish meal

Have fun!


*to be read in thunderous echoing voice

  1. Greg permalink
    March 5, 2010 1:43 pm

    Hey, this is odd that no one has taken the bait, and it’s already afternoon…..

    But, hey, I’ll give it a shot….

    1. ROSTER Roseate Tern
    10. CANVAS Canvasback

  2. March 5, 2010 1:58 pm

    This is great Nate. Some of the answers we came up with aren’t six letter words though they are more like two three letter words.

    Here’s what my co-workers and I came up with at lunch.

    1. ROSTER-Roseate Tern
    2. PRO-WAR Prothonotary Warbler
    3. CANGOO Canada Goose
    4. BRO NOD Brown Noddy
    5. DOW WOO Downy Woodpecker
    6. HAM FLY Hammond’s Flycatcher
    7. CAR CHI Carolina chickadee
    8. COO HAW Coopers Hawk
    9. couldn’t get this one
    10. CANVAS Canvasback (seems too easy though)
    11. HEN SPA Henslow’s Sparrow
    12. SOOSHE Sooty Sherwater


  3. Nate permalink*
    March 5, 2010 2:22 pm

    @Dad- You got it!

    @Kirk- Wow, you made a real dent! You’re right, and I’ve edited above. Six total letters, but it could be more than one word.

    The only ones you didn’t get were obviously #9 and #4 (though I like what you did there). #4 doesn’t require any abbreviations or slang.

  4. March 5, 2010 2:23 pm

    9 would be Pine Warbler.

    Spent some time listing them all out and still only managed 5 (1, 6, 10, 11 were the others) but a few more:
    If a tree falls into the water…
    What some birds do after the young are gone
    A group of kazooists

    • Nate permalink*
      March 5, 2010 3:01 pm

      Is the group of kazooists ALLHUM – Allen’s Hummingbird?

      • March 5, 2010 3:17 pm

        Yes it is. Probably should have noticed at the time, but the other two are not exactly every day American birds.

    • Nate permalink*
      March 5, 2010 10:22 pm

      The tree might be Loggerhead Kingbird – LOG KIN? I can’t figure the second one.

      • March 6, 2010 7:06 pm

        Nope. Both also happen to be 3 word names. Alternate clue for the first one: What’s left after putting out a fire.

    • Nate permalink*
      March 6, 2010 8:55 pm

      Ah! Wedge-tailed Shearwater! WETASH. That’s very good, I tried to find a three word one but couldn’t make it work.

  5. Nate permalink*
    March 5, 2010 2:29 pm

    @Jason- Got it! I had a handful of others that I thought were too much of a stretch to use, but they may make an appearance at some point.

    I’m going to have to think about yours, and #4 is still out there…

  6. March 5, 2010 3:25 pm

    Oh man, you guys are too fast.

  7. March 5, 2010 3:32 pm

    I’m going with WILFLY for #4. I think it’s a good answer even if it’s wrong.

    Also, found a list here and cheated:

  8. Nate permalink*
    March 5, 2010 3:36 pm

    @Patrick- That’s not what I was thinking, but that would be awesome.

    And the correct answer is indeed on that list.

  9. March 5, 2010 3:43 pm

    Oh duh…. CANTOW.

  10. Nate permalink*
    March 5, 2010 3:45 pm

    And Patrick closes it out, except we’re looking for the species name… 😉

  11. March 5, 2010 3:51 pm

    I’ll throw in two more.

    • Simple Chair Conveyance.


    • Where you go after a hard day’s work.
    (hint: this one is a a special case abbreviation.)

    • Nate permalink*
      March 5, 2010 10:27 pm

      I don’t know the chair one, but I’d be willing to bet that the second is BAR NOW! Barn Owl, which I like a lot. Cheers!

  12. March 6, 2010 6:24 pm

    Excellent puzzle, very cleverly done—it must have taken you forever to compose it. One issue, though: I got (1) “Roseate Tern” right off, but found myself stuck forever on (2): I couldn’t think of a bird whose six-letter code could possibly be STUPID!

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